Monday, December 10, 2018

Why I HATE This Time of Year

Taken early this morning as the sun was coming up.

All those sweetness and light ads making you assume that Christmas is about buying stuff to make people happy are evil. Not everyone is able to buy food this time of year, much less an automobile, French perfume or an exercise bike! I hate the commercialism more than anything. Yes, there are lovely decorative lights covering homes (adding to global warming), there are rich and delicious foods (contributing to obesity and diabetes), and there are numerous parties where you have to find another fancy dress and hire that expensive babysitter to make small talk with people you barely know. (I do not get invited to any of these anymore, needless to say).  OK, I will give you the music.  That is the good stuff.  (Unless it starts getting played before Thanksgiving.)  Yes, I am Debbie Downer today!

I am almost in tears right now as I type this because that young man who knocked on my door asking for chores a few weeks ago so that he could bring home some food is back this morning. We gave his number to the food pantry folks and maybe they called. Maybe his mother was too proud and hung up on them. Maybe she accepted the charity and her family can eat again. I do not know, but on this snowy day with schools closed, this young man is back asking to shovel my driveway. It will be totally melted by this afternoon as most of the snow has disappeared where the sun hits the driveway. He asked for maybe $20. I, of course, said I would love to have him shovel it.  I am thinking of having him shovel my back deck so I can pay him more.  I do not know how far he walked to get to my house.  I also realize he does not want charity and I am being careful. 

An hour later he knocks on my door and as I pay him and hand him a bag of persimmon bread and homemade cookies, he tells me he has graduated from high school and is taking classes when he can at the local community college.  That is good news although he seems to lack the sharpness and sophistication that will be needed when he moves forward into adulthood.  I ask for his number and tell him my husband may call if he needs a young helper.  He is really pleased with the baked goods and gives me a surprising hug.

I wish I could believe in a God, but this just makes my heart so heavy that such poverty is common.  It is not some Christmas novel, it is real life and I hate that children have to deal with this!  I just drove my very privileged and lovely grandchildren back home with their dirty clothes separated so that the "maids" can do the laundry.  Along the trip they had their faces glued to their various technology toys.  They are good kids, but I have serious concerns about whether they will understand the world.  Even more, I wish I was rich enough to start a foundation in this county that can help families like this young man's.  Yes, we all give to various foundations, but it is not enough.

Looking forward to getting past this time of year.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Stupid Headlines

"Cardi B Shares First Photo of Daughter Kulture Hours After Announcing Offset Split

It took me a minute or two, or honestly, I gave up trying to figure out the headline above in under a minute.  I just glanced at the article to make sure it was not something important I needed to know.  I have no clue who these people are, I do not care who these people are and I wonder when we are going to quit trying to be so unique in this world when we hand out names!

I also hate that my life gets cluttered with emails and FB posts about such nonsense.

Yes, I am really old!

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Part II of Stories We Tell

OK, now for Part II. If you have not gone ahead and listened to Malcolm Gladwell's Season 3 podcasts 3 and 4 on Revisionist History, go back to the prior post, click the link and I will wait...I will just look at the trees....If you are too busy, then it is your loss. I mean really. You would enjoy it.

OK. Here are three versions of the same event.  (I actually tried to search my blog to see if I had written about this story before but could find nothing, so maybe I am not repeating myself after all!)

I worked as an au pair for a family in Hawaii while I was in graduate school. They gave me food and a place to live and that saved me tremendously so that I could get my degree.

Version 1.
One afternoon my employer came to me to let me know they were having company for dinner and instead of eating with the kids (which I did when they had company), she asked if I would join them for dinner to make it a "foursome." She explained the young man they had invited was a biologist at the University. He had become a friend on a cruise that her husband had taken. They explained he was a bit nerdy on science and maybe somewhat intense, but I might find him interesting and they just wanted a fourth to balance the table. I reluctantly agreed as I was in the middle of mid-terms.  I figured that I would not join them for pre-dinner drinks and work on my term paper and show up before dinner later.

Version 2.  
The man who came to dinner (my future husband) tells the story a bit differently.  He says that they invited him to dinner because they wanted him to meet a young woman that they thought he would like.  They explained that she was charming and interesting.  He had been complaining to them that he could never seem to meet a "nice girl."

(As an aside, I was dating a number, small number, of guys while attending graduate school. I am guessing they were not impressed with my selection of dates.)

Anyway, that night I arrived later than my future husband felt was polite form and we did not hit it off.  I completely forgot that he did not seem to be nerdy because he seemed to be so offended that I was not super eager to meet him.  I remember thinking he seemed so full of himself!  The evening did not go well.  Hubby says that I was really offish to him the whole night!

Needless to say, we did not begin dating right after.  We did run into each on campus a few times and slowly got to know each other, and because hubby is a determined person, we actually did start dating a month or so later.

This year we stopped by on our Hawaii trip to meet up with the couple that brought us together over 46 years ago.  They are now in their late 80's early 90's.  We told them our versions of the story and they do not remember the story as going either way.  They said they just remember inviting us to dinner as a break for both of us working so hard in school.

Clearly, the truth of the story is somewhere in the depths of each person's version both at the time and in the following years as it gets re-told.  

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Telling Stories I(He) Don't Remember

A bookshelf of stories from a friend's house.
I am sure that many of us have sat around the holiday table and told a story from our childhood or youth only to be interrupted by a sibling or aunt or cousin or old school chum telling us a substantial variation of how things really happened. Are we lying, are they lying, do we just see things differently, or are our memories plastic and undependable?

I guess the more we like to tell a good story of an event from our life we tend to embellish or maybe just exaggerate a little because we have told the story so many times before and we want it to have a better edge?  If we do that enough, then the story may change substantially in our own mind.  But what if the story is not that old?  What about omissions to the story?

We had been invited to lunch recently.  This was by a couple I had never met and they lived about 40 minutes from our house.  When I asked Hubby why and what was going on his response was that "I  had met the man at the community pool the last time I went up to swim(!).  He found we had so much in common that we were invited to lunch."

We get to the house, which has a lovely spreading view of a river, and when the door is open a lovely, very thin, lady with dark Spanish eyes and bold dangly earrings welcomes us in.  The home is warm and inviting and there are nice smells coming from the range.  We introduce ourselves and I meet the husband who is of average looks, average build, and above average intelligence.  We learn over a glass of Spanish rose that she is from Columbia and this is a second marriage for both of them.  (They met via computer.)  We, of course, do not get into what tragedies brought about the dissolution of both marriages.  He is retired Navy and she has worked on nutrition programs for USAID in her past.

Another couple arrives in leather jackets and pants via a very expensive looking motorcycle that can carry home the groceries if needed.  The man is a retired Navy pilot and the wife is currently working in intelligence data for defense, both in their late 50's or early 60's.  

I finally ask as we sit down to eat why the retired Navy pilot had been so brave as to invite to lunch someone he just met at a community pool?  His wife is laughing because she agrees with me.  This is when I get the other version of the story.

He begins with:

"Well, at first I was not too sure about J.  As I was leaning against the wall of the pool he walked up to me and asked if I had an extra swimsuit because he had forgotten to pack his.  I didn't.  Then after my swim, I saw him working out in the gym and we headed to the showers together and got talking.  We found we had a lot in common."

I think I can safely say that most of us found this story a bit jaw-dropping.  I am not as surprised as you are that my husband asked if the man had an extra suit.  My husband is an only child and the most honest and trusting person even at his old age.  (My daughter was shocked when I told her the story.)  The fact that my husband left out this important point shows somewhat how we skew stories.

Now for another story.  I was listening to Malcolm Gladwell's podcast (which can be heard here) that explains how stories by honest and intelligent people can be so strange or contradicting. Listen to Episode 3 and Episode 4 from season 3 for the background on this storytelling thing.  Malcolm Gladwell has a compelling voice and really good episodes....go ahead and listen...40 minutes long and 37 minutes long...I will wait.

Then my next post will be the story my husband and I tell about how we met and a revisionist ( more boring) version.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thankfulness As Promised

This list was made without forethought for order or importance. Just a thankfulness list off the top of my head in a stream of consciousness thinking.  I am thankful for:

  1. As a student I used to savor the few minutes I might have each day for pleasure reading, and now I have the luxury of reading close to fifty books a year.
  2. I can usually stay in my pajamas until noon if I want. Actually, on some days I can stay in my pajamas all day.
  3. I can afford good coffee.
  4. I love taking photographs and I can make time to do what I love.
  5. I have a husband who puts up with my lack of patience.
  6. While I make every effort to look good, I am thankful that it no longer bothers me how old I now look.
  7. I have had the opportunity to meet so many interesting people around the world in my long life.
  8. My health is stable these days.
  9. My husband's health is stable these days.
  10. I have grown close to my trees and birds and they tolerate me.
  11. I can have clean sheets as often as I am willing to change the bedding.
  12. Science
  13. Chocolate
  14. The wisdom of good leaders.
  15. My children in my life when they have time.
  16. I am thankful for blog readers and even more so for commenters.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

It Is What It Is

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States and like many holidays, is being viewed with less rosy eyes by its citizens.  Some see it as a time when Colonists and Native Americans came together to share the bounty of the season.  Others see it as a glorification of a false time where Europeans were at the beginning of erasing an indigenous people.

I usually see it as a day where I can make a long list of thankfulness and eat a big plate of caloric food.

I was reading one of the bloggers who wrote that she used to get "pity-invitations" on Thanksgiving after her husband passed, but she no longer gets invited on this holiday.  She usually eats alone.

Hubby and I will be doing nothing on that day. That is what I wrote. We will not be cooking turkey. We will not be traveling to a house where turkey is being cooked. We will not eat out at a restaurant where turkey is on the buffet.  I think I have some chicken thighs thawing in the fridge or if we get energetic and it is not too cold, we will harvest a few oysters.

Every other Thanksgiving our children go to their respective in-laws hours away and celebrate and this year is the other Thanksgiving.  Like many in America, they will be traveling well into the night tonight.

Hubby and I have often gone to a local Irish pub/restaurant which serves the best buffet Thanksgiving, but this year we did not get our reservations in on time!  So, we will be doing nothing special.  Maybe I will post my thankfulness list...?  Certainly, I will eat.  

I am hoping that those of you who celebrate will have good food and good conversation and some spiritual uplifting.  For all the rest of you, stay safe.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Other Hawaiians

Some of these animals are not native and even invasive and others were once endangered but are now fairly common due to federal regulations.  There are many, many exotic birds in Hawaii that have been introduced and if I were birding on this trip I would have gone looking for them.  But I only photographed those I stumbled across in my rush to keep up with the younger adults.  All the animals were interesting.

Everyone is an art critic...found when I went for the plasticware at a lunch counter.

Gold dust day gecko (Phelsuma laticauda) native to Madagascar.  So lovely!

Perhaps a shama?

An immature shorebird of some kind or a dove?

A common Brazilian Cardinal

Asian Mongoose introduced to get rid of the rats in the sugar plantations and now a nuisance.

Monk Seal, once rarely seen on Oahu.  The small Hawaiian (French Frigate Shoals area) island that recently was washed away after the hurricane was home to over 90% of these!

Feral cats fed by misled people (unless they also are wise enough  to catch and sterilize.)

Green Turtles sunning and protected from disturbance by these guys.
Nene (Branta sandvicensis) that used to be endangered and is now everywhere!

I had fun and left out the goats which I had posted in a prior blog and my photos of the wild pigs were pretty blurry.